‘The Monologues’ at PLU: Students reimagine famous Eve Ensler play in their own words
By Brooke Thames '18
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (Feb. 5, 2016)- A familiar Pacific Lutheran University tradition changes its anatomy this year, as organizers reimagine “The Vagina Monologues” as “The Monologues” - a fresher, more interactive take on the famous play.
Incorporating student-written content, “The Monologues” is a twist on the traditional format of the original episodic performance. This year’s show will not only include standard pieces from “The Vagina Monologues,” but also original monologues written by PLU cast members.
The show hits the stage Feb. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. in the Chris Knutzen Hall in the Anderson University Center.
Written and produced by Eve Ensler in 1996, “The Vagina Monologues” is a political commentary on issues of women’s health and sexuality. The original play consists of eight monologues designed to approach topics of sex, menstruation and female genitalia in thought-provoking and empowering ways.
The decision to reinvent the show at PLU was a collaborative effort between student directors and Jennifer Smith, director of the Women’s Center. By incorporating students’ stories into the show, the cast and crew hope to broaden perspectives presented in the play.
“We wanted to get more trans women, more queer women, more women of color to talk about their experiences,” said Courtney Gould ’16, creative director for the production.
Gould says this more personal approach to “The Monologues” gives students a space to share their feelings and speak their truths to an audience of their peers. All of the student-written monologues will touch upon issues that affect female Lutes in their everyday lives, such as disabilities and fat-shaming.
“We want to bring a PLU aspect to it, so it’s not all of these random women from all over the country,” Gould said, “but it’s PLU women and the things we go through.”
The cast and crew of “The Monologues” also believe presenting pieces written by students for students may help foster conversation about women’s issues on campus. They hope that showing Lutes openly discussing topics such as identity, sexuality and health will inspire other students to start discussions of their own.
“I think it brings the subject of women’s sexuality and women’s health into conversation when so many people are scared to talk about it,” Gould said.
In addition to holding two shows at PLU, the cast will also be taking “The Monologues” to the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor. There, PLU students will be doing two performances, one for the staff and a second for the inmates.
It’s an opportunity made possible by the IF Project, an organization that works to help inmates share their own stories through theater.
Smith said proceeds from the PLU shows will benefit Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, which provide a rigorous accredited college program to incarcerated women in Washington state.
PLU’s performance of “The Monologues” in coordination with the IF Project is a stepping stone that Smith hopes will lead to inmates writing and performing their own monologues.
Smith says she believes that PLU’s performance at the WCCW will present an interesting opportunity for connection and inspiration.
“I think the importance of having this collaborative effort is really to draw out similarities between two groups of people who are seemingly very different,” Smith said. “That connection is really important to cultivate the sense of shared stories and shared experiences.”